Category Archives: Birmingham

“Born in Birmingham”, “Made in the Midlands”, or “Bred in the Black Country”; how do you sell yourself?

We all of us have roots. Some of them reach deeper than others. I have come across many people over the years that are driven by origins which give a strong message; the only problem is that it’s not always clear whether the sentiments conveyed are good or bad.

It is innate in the vast majority of the population that they are fierce defenders of the area where they were born and often made their way in life. There is nothing wrong in this attitude, and it is rare that an individual takes against their regional background. This value system can be a major part of one’s upbringing, and it can be enlightening to see how far this permeates into areas such as business and commerce, as well as wider community-based pastimes.

Yes, I have met those from the Black Country who would not do deals with a Brummie unless it were the last – and only – possible alternative on a very, very, long list of options. It sounds harsh, but there is a consistency of approach if you reverse the roles as well. The main factor here is incredibly irrational, emotional, and often illogical: it is Pride. (For the purposes of my subject matter in this article, I am referring to the wider concept as it is understood, and not the more strictly drawn but popular rainbow terminology familiar today.)

Pride is an emotion that lurks within all of us. Its noticeable presence can vary across time, but it seldom disappears altogether. We want to do business with all good people but, building a deal with something that allows us to feel proud, well, that makes us feel warm inside, and bright outside. Doing a piece of business from our vibrant conurbation that reflects on what our geography has given us, permits a flush of satisfaction, and a more enjoyable glass of wine or beer at the end of a long work day. Sure, it’s always nice to help a Brummie “get one over” on a Black Country cousin, but Banks’s and Bathams can sup respectfully with erstwhile fans of Brew XI. In regard to that particular tipple, there is still the question of allocating ownership of the Mitchell and Butlers brewery. “Yam Yam” or “Brummagem”? I’ll leave that one with you and the comments section… (I’ll ignore the growing Burton-based web of US parent corporates!)

Even when such local rivalries are put to one side, the opportunities still arise to classify what you are doing as “Made in the Midlands”. Can we beat the Soft Southerners, or No-Nonsense Northerners? You bet. (To clarify, Eastern, Western and other parts of this Sceptered Isle to make gratuitous fun of are freely available…)

Back to the topic. How do you sell yourself and your organisation? Does heritage and tradition help? I am curious to read what you think. Let me know in the comments. I have worked all over the UK, but being who I am, from where I am, shapes what I am. Me? I was Bred in the Black Country, lived as an incomer Brummie, and still try to spread the word as much as possible, that great things are Made in the Midlands.

You can find out more about what that means to me here.